Helping Haiti from Ohio

A Perrysburg couple has been helping the people of Haiti for decades.
Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 5:31 PM EDT
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PERRYSBURG, Ohio (WTVG) - Saturday morning, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated parts of Haiti, an island with special ties to a northwest Ohio couple. Dr. Jay Nielsen and his wife Jan have spearheaded a mission in Haiti since 2005, and on Monday Jan shared a video with 13abc of her friends in the country.

Jan says the friend in the video says that “many, many houses are broken” and they “hope you can come very soon.” She calls the video heartbreaking.

Since 2005, Jan and Jay have opened schools, built farms, and brought in resources like clean water to the Savanette and Cayes areas in Haiti. After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, they built about 50 new houses.

“The only houses that seem to be standing are the ones that our generous donors built after Hurricane Matthew in 2016,” explains Jan.

While people still might have their houses, those buildings aren’t offering any protection from tropical depression Grace, set to bring nearly a foot of rain through Tuesday.

“Nobody will go in their houses because they’re afraid they’re going to fall,” says Jan. “We’ve had people sleeping in our schoolyard. Nobody can sleep because the aftershocks are coming all the time.”

Jay adds that feeding those devastated by the earthquake is a priority right now telling 13abc, “They need to be fed every day right now, they can’t go in their houses, they can’t even get their spoons and forks.”

And Jan says that people are still searching, still days after the earthquake. “People are thinking, their friends, they can’t find them. Now, they’re finding out that they’re probably under the ruble somewhere,” she says. “So, we expect many, many more deaths.”

With disaster after disaster, there are ways you can help. Through Missions International of America, monetary donations are the most efficient.

“I just simply deposit in my account, deposit it and my people take it out of the bank, and they’re in a town where they buy the things and they bring the supplies,” says Jay. “It’s very quick. 100% efficiency, every dollar goes to Haiti.”

You can donate directly to Missions International of America here.

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